Linked by Clinton De Young on Sun 27th Oct 2002 18:15 UTC
Debian and its clones After reading many of the posts regarding the recent OSNews story, "An Unbiased Review of Debian 3.0", I thought this article may be useful to those who would like to try Debian, but are a little intimidated by its installer. Several of the posts to the above mentioned story indicated that Debian's installer was a huge hurtle for many people, who would otherwise like to try it. I have found Debian to be the most useful flavor of Linux, so I wanted to write an easy, though somewhat long, walkthrough in the hopes of allowing a wider audience to experience first hand this stable and unique Linux distribution.
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Wanting to burn a CD with an ISO for a friend currently on dialup, I found Debian now steers you to using a bit of software called Jigdo to assemble the ISO. Unfortunately, the ISO it assembles doesn't - at least for me - run the process properly on login after the initial reboot. It mentions the timezone issue, but gives no option to set it, opens a nano session to edit apt/sources without any instructions on what to do there, and then sets the root password to a value apparently random - so there I am locked out of root. I used the very good Minimux boot floppy (not Debian, but by a Debian fan in France) to get in and remove the root password, and then tried to use dselect to bring in more packages - but the Jigdo system puts the packages under a "pool" directory and dselect is expecting a different directory structure, and I can't get it to accept this one. So here I am having to boot from a Knoppix CD (great piece of work!) to even dial in and look to see if there are instructions on how to work around this new, more horrific than ever, Debian install process. Oh, but first I tried the Progeny Woody installer to see if that would get farther - no joy, it wouldn't accept any mouse choice at the screen where it askes whether you want to blow away your system or install in unused space or whatever - the mouse could move, but it wouldn't take a click. For my own system I'm in the process of installing Gentoo - takes awhile with assembling all the programs, and still a bit rough around the edges, but as soon as the Gentoo crew finishes up the reference installs for 1.4 - precompiled - you can bet I'll never try to put Debian on anything again. And I'm saying this as someone who has used Debian on a number of systems for several years. If you're not going to build a good installation system, at least you have to document how to work around it's shortcomings when it goes bad - and not do stuff like rearrange your ISO without making the docs and programs match its new presumptions.